Reflections on 2014 - 2015
Reflections on 2014
Our choir presented itself in 2014 in thirteen public performances of different purpose and required level. Three of these were for a competition. The first semester was dedicated to the study of the repertoir for the culmination of the spring season, which was in part our participation in two festivals, in part our concerts in the theatre Divadlo u Hasičů and the Czech Museum of Music in Prague.
Rosa was invited in April to participate in the realisation of an interesting musical project in Divadlo u Hasičů. We staged the premiere of a musical fresco for choir, orchestra and recitation Seven Deadly Sins by Václav Kozel, with Kozel´s All Stars Big Band and Alfred Strejček interpreting the spoken word, under the direction of Václav Kozel. Our performance with such eminent professionals gave our amateur choir an unforgettable experience, and provided an opportunity for growth to become an equivalent partner to the dominant brass section of the big band. We also enjoyed tremendously works by Václav Adam Michna together with the deep brass section of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in the same project.
Our performance with Kozel´s All Stars Big Band was not our first work together, and hopefully not the last collaboration.
Two importnat events followed in June. The first was our spring concert in the Czech Museum of Music on 11th June. The concert consisted of four sections of different types of music, choral works of spiritual and secular origin, with a span from renaissance to the 20th century. Solo parts were performed by Petra Popelková (soprano), Ondřej Valenta and Radek Šalša (piano). The main substance of the concert was Dvořák´s Moravian Duets in an arrangement by Leoš Janáček, a selection of Biblical Songs by Dvořák (solo Petra Popelková) and a part of the Missa Festiva by a contemporary American composer John Leavitt.
We also participated in June in the festival of spiritual music Musica Sacra, which took place in the summer palace Kozel (13. – 14.6.). Our programme consisted of works for choir from renaissance to the 20th century by Tomás Luis de Vicotria, Dmitrij Stěpanovič Botňanskij, Mikola Leontovyč, Václav Ptáček and Antonín Tučapský. Rosa took a place in the silver category.
At the beginning of the summer holidays Rosa participated in a demanding competition – the International Festival of Academic Choirs (IFAS, 4. – 9. 7.), which takes place in Pardubice. This was the 23rd year of the festival and had, just like in previous years, representation from Czech Republic, Russian Federation, Greece and Serbia, i.e. countries with a strong tradition for choir singing. Furthermore, there were choirs from Izrael, Columbia and India. The choirs can compete in several of the eight categories. Rosa opted for competing in the category Works of one genre (we chose four compositions of spiritual music and one of so called ancient music). We gained a silver in this competition against five other choirs. We also participated in the competition for the Bohuslav Martinů Prize, where the qualifying condition was to interpret at least one work by this composer. Our conductor chose a well known and impressive composition from the cycle Czech Madrigals No. 6 Chceme, my se chceme.
Altogether seven choirs participated in this part and Rosa was placed in the bronze category.
After the summer break our rehearsals were aimed at our winter performances, in particular the Christmas programme. Our first concert, organised by the agency Maribu in the St. Nicholas´ Church in the Old Town Square already had the Advent atmosphere (29.11.), where we sang alongside a mixed choir from Italy. Under the Baroque vaulting of the church the audience heard delightful Christmas carols arranged by Jaroslav Krček, Palestrina´s O Bone Jesu, Young´s Alleluia and many other works. The concert in the Czech Museum of Music was also on a Christmas theme, enriched by Brixi´s Pastores Loquebantur, Franck´s Panis Angelicus and Dvořák´s Ave Maria. The Museum´s marvellous accoustics, so beneficial for a chanber choir of limited size, makes it a favourite place to come back for our concerts.
Our further performances were Ryba´s Czech Christmas Mass, together with the Symphonic Orchestra and choir of the Czech Technical University (ČVUT). This traditional piece always attracts a large audience in the Bethlehem Chapel (9.12.) and in the Sokol Hall in Roztoky (21.12.). For completeness we must also mention our smaller performances for the traditional switching on of Christmas lights in Roztoky (30.11.), a „chamber“ performance of the Ryba Mass in the Methodist Hall in Prague 2 (11.12.) and the Advent concert in the Municipal Hall in Nučice (20.12.).
Rosa in 2015
After the busy period of the last days of 2014 Rosa started the new concert season with a performance in the amiable environment of Castle Roztoky on 26.4. Our repertoir consisted, apart from a few standard pieces, of arrangements of folk songs by Z. Lukáš and P. Eben, and included also a few less typical pieces such as the famous Nella Fantasia by E. Morricone and Ecce homo (Mr. Bean theme) by H. Goodall.
Our next performance in Castle Roztoky was on the occasion of re-opening of the atelier of the artist Zdenka Braunerová, as part of the cultural programme of the Museum of Střední Čechy (13.6.). Our performance took place this time in the open air for logistical reasons, something that can pose a challenge for the performers. This proved to be the case on the said day, when the summer heat rapidly changed into a storm. Rosa finished its performance in a downpour. Our conductor Radek Šalša, courageously waving the baton till the end, was drenched to the core…
After the summer holidays a joint performance took place in Castle Roztoky of Rosa and the British choir Sheldon Singers (22.9.), interesting by the juxtaposition of two similarly oriented chamber ensembles. We heard form the British choir, apart from Vivaldi´s Gloria, pieces from several lesser known English authors of various musical periods. Rosa on the other hand sang a shorter and breezier selection, starting by Orlando di Lasso and finishing with Petr Eben, in a performance of high quality. Following the concert the choirs went across the road to an informal gathering in the restaurant Koruna, which, apart from a joint meal, was also an opportunity for an exchange of information on choir music and joint singing in the final part of the evening.
The end of the year was again traditionally marked by the approach of Christmas. The festive lighting of Christmas lights in Roztoky (29.11.) was celebrated with a cycle of carols arranged by Karl Stecker, and well attended by local population.
We performed Ryba´s Mass in Bethlehem Chapel together with the Symphonic Orchestra and choir of the Czech Technical University (ČVUT), under the leadership of Radek Šalša, who is the artistic director of both ensembles. This performance, as well as the same piece later in the Sokol Hall in Roztoky, was in front of full houses. Our further activities in December were participation in the international Advent Singing in Prague, organized by the agency Maribu in the Lichtenštejn Palace in the B. Martinů Hall, followed by Advent Sunday in the Museum of Střední Čechy in Roztoky, and culminating in the concert in Museum of Czech Music (15.12.), when our choir was conducted, for a change, by Kristina Šalšová. Our programme consisted of mostly baroque and classicist repertoir (Vivaldi, Händel, Brixi, Mozart), extended by works from Leo Hassler, Karel Stecker, Ivan Eröd and others